Improving the sustainable management of mining tailings through microbially induced calcite precipitation: A review

Héctor Zúñiga-Barra, Javiera Toledo-Alarcón, Álvaro Torres-Aravena, Lorena Jorquera, Mariella Rivas, Leopoldo Gutiérrez, David Jeison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Mining activities offers evident potential economic benefits for mineral rich countries. However, mining operations can produce a series of environmental impacts. Many of them are associated with the generation and management of tailings. Biogeochemical processes have potential to modify the properties of particulate solids, such as tailings. Microbial induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is probably the most studied biogeochemical process. It promotes calcite precipitation, as a result of biological activity of different microorganisms. Available research indicates that MICP is a tool that has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable management of tailing deposits. Indeed, MICP have been reported as a technology suitable for removal and/or immobilization of heavy metals, creation of impermeable barriers, prevention of soil liquefaction and control of windblown dust emissions. However, several challenges still need to be addressed to enable relible full-scale implementation, requiring research in the near future. These are consideration of the particular chemical composition of tailings, reduction of urea requirements, determination of optimal reagents dosage, evaluation of the long term stability of the treatment and calculation of costs associated to ecah particular application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107855
JournalMinerals Engineering
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Calcite
  • Environment
  • Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP)
  • Mining industry
  • Precipitation
  • Tailings

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